Review: 'Fatal Attractions' on Animal Planet Mar. 14, Ego plus denial equals death
By April MacIntyre Mar 14, 2010, 19:21 GMT
Sizing you up for dinner? EPA/SAN MEI
"Fatal Attractions" airs on Animal Planet, Sunday nights at 10, Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central time.
Human ego run amok is the central theme of Animal Planet's "Fatal Attractions."
Bottom line: The old expression of "Live by the sword, die by the sword" sums up these sad tales of people who for all the wrong reasons, selfishly loved their lethal charges too much. These people make terrible judgement calls that endanger themselves and their friends and family, resulting in very unhappy endings for most if not all of the animals who are put down or locked up, left confused and alone.
Mentally ill people who anthropomorphize lethal animals and reptiles, convinced they have the ability to manage a creature that can kill them at will, will explain to you the 'whys' of their obsessive love.
At the past winter press tour TCA's in Pasadena, one of the profiled animal owners told Monsters and Critics she would never give up her Chimps, despite their lethal tendencies.
Montana resident Jeanne Rizzotto, owner of two young adult male chimpanzees Connor and Kramer, is fully aware of the risk of parenting two primates; however, her love for these chimps seems to outweigh her concern for her own life. Having purchased these primates under what she describes as false pretenses – the previous owner told her one would go to AIDS research and the other would be put down – Jeanne vowed to give “her boys” the best life possible. And even though Jeanne personally knew the infamous Travis the Chimp, who brutally disfigured Charla Nash last February in Connecticut – Travis is Kramer and Connor’s half brother – Jeanne remains faithful to her conviction that she’s doing the right thing, “her thing.”
Rizzotto will continue to keep her animals. "I still have chimpanzees," said Rizzotto, defending them after vivid post-attack footage of Travis the chimp was shown.
"There really isn't a lesson to be learned. Different strokes for different folks, I'm happy I've got the chimpanzees. I would do it all over again. I've been fortunate enough that I have not had an incident. The only thing I can take from other incidents that have happened is to just make a better environment for my chimps. At this point I do know that ou should not have private ownership and I am working on those things to find homes for chimpanzees with other sanctuaries. Right now all the sanctuaries are full. It is my belief, and I have done a complete turn-around, should people own chimpanzees? No. Bur right now in my situation,I just have to provide the best I can for my chimpsand hopefully work with other people to get chimpanzees moved out of the home."
Some of the people you will meet in the series claim the animals love them back, and that they understand how to present themselves to the beasts so they are not in harms way. But the fact that this show exists tells everyone that all wild animals have their bad days too, regardless if their owner treated them to a new suit of clothes (face ripping chimp) or a filet mignon roast (woman eating tiger) the night before.
The animals' memories of these acts of human "kindness" are very short. There are no happy endings in "Fatal Attractions."
“Fatal Attractions” examines real-life cases of people who bucked common sense and took in lions, tigers, leopards, venomous snakes, giant lizards through a variety of means. Some were bought in underground markets or over the Internet and a few at legitimate pet stores.
In each hour-long episode, several exotic pet ownership cases are carefully reenacted, scrutinized and questioned. Human behavior experts and animal authorities bring forth their educated opinions and analysis.
The series is both sensationalistic and sad, as the mauled pet owner, and often times dead owner's relatives, realize in hindsight that the ego rush of being able to have such a "pet" in their possession was probably a bad idea. Many are undiagnosed with some sort of mental disorder, and have traits similar to OCD sufferers.
Hubris and ego are the only other explanation why someone would allow a giant, man eating cat to wander inside their home, or allow filthy Monitor lizard who kills you slowly with little nips to your fingers allowing their bacteria laden mouths to infect you, watching, waiting, until the Salmonella overwhelms you. You sit for a second, feverish, dizzy on your Lazy-Boy. Then they make their move.
The opening episode is the tale of the man-eating Monitor lizards in “Reptiles,” as we learn of a fellow, Ron Huff, in Newark, Del., who had a serious lizard obsession. The loner loved two things: working out and becoming a reptile expert. This man and his six large lizards lived together in a small studio apartment, heat set at 80 degrees every day of the year. Imagine the smell.
Huff was nipped at by his creatures, and the subsequent infections and disease that took him over allowed his group of 6-7 foot long lizards to dine at will when he passed out from fever. Eating his face off first.
"Fatal Attractions" is loaded with realistic grisly re-creations of this and other death by exotic pet tales.
Producers get the full range of b-roll interviews, stunned police officers and first responders, head shaking relatives who always say "we knew it was going to happen," and others who explain why having a chimp, Black Mamba or fully grown lion is something you should reconsider.
The most upsetting episode for me was “Big Cats,” where a Johnny Weissmuller accolyte, Steve Sipek, defends his big cats. You can clearly see he does love them. But he lost me when he said he loved them more than his own son. As with every person profiled who had a lethal encounter with their pets, even kindly Sipek, who was saved from being burned alive in a movie set by his first lion, Sampson, clearly has psychological issues that are unresolved and that cloud his judgement.
Sipek dreamed of having a lion since he was a boy, admiring Johnny Weissmuller in the Tarzan movies. He eventually got to play Tarzan himself, and he got his lion, Sampson after the lion dragged him out of the fire. His house if filled with big cats who jump in the pool and swim with him. He even says at the end of his "Fatal Attractions" interview that if he is killed by any of his beloved cats, he probably had made a mistake in reading them.
This series is too intense for small children.
"Fatal Attractions" kicks off with the reptile episode March 14, at 10 PM ET/PT followed by the March 21 premiere of big cats and the March 28 premiere of chimpanzees.
The series is produced for Animal Planet by Oxford Scientific Films. Executive producer for Oxford Scientific Films is Caroline Hawkins; Clare Birks is CEO for Oxford Scientific Films. Erin Wanner is executive producer for Animal Planet. Vice President of Development for Animal Planet is Charlie Foley.
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